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Central European Pitch Forum winners

Macedonian-Polish action spec wins the first Central European Pitch Forum
Veteran Macedonian-born Swiss writer-director Mitko Panov took first prize and 5 thousand euro along with it at the closing event of the 2007 Fade In Central European Pitch Forum, the continent’s first story market, for his Balkan-set drama-actioner Witness.
The 2 thousand euro-worth special jury prize went to Paolo Poti from Italy for his drama screenplay The God of the Hills, while the award for the best Eastern European screenplay was given to Hungarian writer team Péter Gál and Csaba Tóth for their chiller Weekend. Young Hungarian director István Madarász got the Best Pitch award for the presentation of his unique action thriller Loop.
The lavish awards ceremony and networking dinner, attended by a hundred-plus film professionals from all across Europe, closed a very intense three days in Pécs in the south of Hungary. Beautiful weather was kind to the organizers, as the picture-perfect city—a European Cultural Capital-to-be in 2010—showed its most stunning faces to attendees of its international film festival Moveast and its flagship event pitch forum.
13 screenwriters from all over Europe showed up with 11 projects. Their screenplays were all written on spec—meaning the authors developed them on their own volition—so the writers arrived in the hope of selling their screen stories to the attending producers.
During a very intensive two day workshop in the first week of October, world class coaches Jurgen Wolff and Rupert Widdicombe from the UK prepared the participants for their presentation, also known as “pitching”. On the third day, in front of 15 international producers and a host of other industry guests the writers finally got the chance to kickstart their careers by pitching their stories to the decision makers.
Meanwhile, the jury, led by president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe Christina Kallas and comprising of such acclaimed personalities as screenwriter and deputy director of Polish Film Institute Maciej Karpinski, BAFTA-winning writer-director Richard Kwietniowski, and writer-director Giovanni Robbiano, professor of the Genoa University decided upon which screenplays to be awarded.
Finnish filmmaker Maria Lappalainen’s story, Red Diploma merited special mention for its emotional plotting. The skilfully written melodrama tells the story of a young orphan in Russia and her impossible romance with a street thug.
Italian scribe Poti’s masterfully developed The God of the Hills is a drama set in war-torn Sarajevo about a sniper and the way he tries to save a young boy from the terrors of war from the distance of the hills over the city. The 2 thousand euro coming with the prize he received as a special jury award was sponsored by Allianz.
Weekend by Hungarian writer team Gál and Tóth is a slowly building, passionate and tense thriller about an arrogant criminal and his entourage who turn the life of a tiny Transylvanian community upside down and their actions lead to a gory showdown. The story thrilled the jury so much that they awarded it with the 2-thousand euro prize for the Filmjus Best Eastern European Screenplay.
American-educated, Macedonian-born and Swiss resident Panov developed his screenplay with his writing partner, renowned Polish filmmaker Wladislaw Pasikowski. Their Witness is an action-drama set in the Balkan hills, where an envoy from the Hague Tribunal of War Crimes arrives to persuade a former soldier to testify against an alleged war criminal. Getting out of the hills is not as easy as it sounds as locals does not want the soldier to go to court and testify against whom they perceive as their national hero. Their bloody escape teaches the envoy an important lesson about life. The actioner moved the jury so much that they unanimously voted it the Best Screenplay of the 2007 Fade In Central European Pitch Forum. The 5 thousand euro prize is supported by MTV, the Hungarian Television.
István Madarász’s enthusiastic presentation of his twisted time-travelling action thriller Loop impressed the 15-strong producers’ panel so much that they gave him the Best Pitch Award. It comes with one thousand euro and is sponsored by Oberon Studio.
Not only the winners, but all the other participating writers left with high hopes, as all of them were approached by producers eager to read their screenplays. The organizers of the Central European Pitch Forum, Fade In Script Consulting promised the writers to keep track of the future of all the attending screenplays and continue with their efforts to help selling them.

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Chatelin Bruno
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